Picture this. A school having a strength of just two persons. A teacher and a student. And a state government spending nearly Rs 50,000 monthly on mid-day meals and salary of a teacher and workers.
Located in Kapurthala’s Bhalaipur village exists one such government school which has been running with less than 10 students for the past 6 to 7 years. Such is the lackadaiscal attitude of the Punjab government’s education department that the officials hardly paid any heed to take up the matter aggressively with the higher authorities.
Suprisingly, even though the state education department has already closed several such schools where the strength was less than 20 students, but this school remains completely ignored. In the last session, there were three students, including two in Class 5 and one in Class 4. After the fifth standard students were promoted in the next class in March this year, the school was left with just one student, Jagdeep Singh, who was also promoted.
As per government rules, the teacher and the student can be shifted to other schools easily in the nearby village, but the district education office never took the issue seriously.
When enquired, District Education Officer (DEO) elementary Gurchran Singh Multani said that he was aware about this and the matter has been addressed to higher authorities.
He claimed that soon it will be merged with the other schools located in the nearby village. Regarding the delay in merging this school and on government resources being misused for long, he said that villagers wanted to the school to run and had promised that they will motivate the people to send their children to the school. But, somehow, private schools were given preference over it, he said. In the seven years of its existence, the school had seven students, but the strength was reduced to three last year, which is now further reduced to one.
Teacher Kamlajit Singh said that he has been motivating the parents of the children as well as the Panchayat with the in the village, which has around 35 to 40 houesholds, to send their children to the school but they prefer to send them to the private schools where annual expenditure is more than Rs 50,000 per class.
As per teacher-pupil ratio, one teacher is required for 30 to 35 students.
Agreeing that the school should have closed down long back, a senior official in education department has put the blame on the lengthy process in the department for the mess. “Once this student gets promoted to next class, this school will be left with no students,” rued a senior education official.